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Through Another's Eyes

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Rather than his alarm, it's the light that wakes him. Bright daylight that's streaming into the room even though Goro's sure he closed the curtains before he got into bed. Usually, it doesn't matter too much anyway, considering that he tends to be an early riser. Apparently not today, though.

Rolling over with a groan, Goro vaguely wonders if he's come down with something. He certainly feels far more sluggish than normal, as if he'd barely gotten any sleep at all. More than that, something just feels off, though he can't pinpoint what it is exactly.

He can't afford to be sick, not today. After all that tedious prep work he has no intention of missing this interview. It's not as if he feels nauseous or anything, just subtly... wrong. It's probably just fatigue, nothing some fresh air and a quick coffee can't fix.

Besides, he needs to find those Shujin students again. It'll be easier to approach them on neutral ground, rather than having to try and track them down at their school. Maybe it's nothing - maybe it's just that the quiet boy intrigued him - but he'd be a fool not to follow his intuition.

Groaning, still sluggish, Goro finally pushes himself up onto his elbows and rubs a hand against his eyes. Only to freeze.

This isn't his room.

As he twists to better look around his foot nudges against a ball of black and white fur that’s curled up on top of the blanket, apparently unconcerned by the presence of a stranger.

Pushed against the opposite wall is some sort of work desk, old and worn but still laid out with tools. The few other bits of furnishing spread around the fringes of the room all look similarly second-hand, offering no real insights into whose bed this might be. Bare bulbs hang from the exposed rafters, a couple of empty clotheslines strung up at angles across the ceiling. So he’s in some kind of attic, one that isn’t really meant for habitation judging by the fact that the walls are barely more than plasterboard, the windows above the bed thin and rather shabby.

A clatter of pots and pans drifts up from a staircase on the far side of the space, he guesses someone must be using the kitchen down there. The distinct scent of curry in the air seems to support the deduction, although its mixed with a lingering earthy fragrance of coffee. In fact, if he’s not mistaken those are sacks of coffee beans on the shelves by the head of the stairs.

How could he have ended up here? Goro knows he'd locked the door behind him and he remembers lying down in his own bed so what...

"What's wrong? Nightmare?"

Already unsettled as he is, Goro thinks he can be excused for flinching at the unexpected voice. He hadn't noticed anyone else up here and, as he glances around, he still can't see anyone. There aren't any obvious hiding spots and the cat is only watching him.

If this is a nightmare it's miles away from any he's ever had before. It doesn't feel like a dream, though, and...

With something almost like impatience, the cat gets up, putting its paws on his legs in order to peer into his face. "Are you okay, Akira?"

The words come out of the cat, Goro is sure of it. This cat just spoke. Actual words. And it called him...

"Akira?" The name feels surprisingly natural on his tongue, almost as if it really belongs to him.

And in a way it does, doesn’t it?

Bright blue eyes go wide in surprise, the cat instinctively backing away. "You're not..."

He's not himself. Simply put, this body isn't his. Because it's his so-

Abruptly feeling totally awake, Goro all but jumps from the bed, not caring that the cat disappears under the blanket in the process. Unsurprisingly, the clothes he's wearing are entirely new to him; a long-sleeved black shirt and olive lounge pants, plain but comfortable. At least he - the one this body actually belongs to - doesn't sleep naked. That would have been... unfortunate.

But he barely dwells on that thought, attention instead turning to the boy's hands. They're not so dissimilar from his own at a glance, but the more he looks the clearer the differences are. Longer fingers, the sort that put him in mind of a musician, and pale skin that's marked with various small burns and scratches, mostly healed. Hands that see a lot of use, then.

They're trembling, though, and that's on account of him. The enormity of what this all means is only just starting to sink in and it's already threatening to overwhelm him. This is... This isn't part of the plan.

Feeling vaguely nauseous, Goro scans the room again in search of a bathroom. Naturally, there's nothing of the sort in this strange attic - and what kind of person lives in this sort of place? - so he has no choice but to try the stairs. There has to be something down there.

Only concerned with shutting himself in somewhere small where he can collect his thoughts and just breathe, he takes the stairs two at a time. He stumbles at the bottom, a combination of his haste and the unfamiliarity of this body, eyes taking a moment to adjust to the dimmer light down here.

"What's all the racket this morning?"

The voice is gruff, a man, with the harshness of a smoker's lungs. Fortunately, it’s coming from around the corner, past a door labelled ’toilet’ that’s only a couple of steps away.

Not having the peace of mind for manners right now, he wrenches open the blessed door and all but slams it behind him. He can’t face dealing with anyone else right now. Lock rammed securely into position, Goro lets out a deep breath he hadn't quite realised he was holding and sags.

This can't be happening. This has to be some sort of dream. A nightmare. He can't have a soulmate. He doesn't.

Other people have soulmates. People who aren't mistakes. He... He shouldn't have even been born so how-?

He had come to terms with it. That he would never have this moment, of being in the skin of someone else, someone who would truly love him. That his soul simply wasn't a part of a complete whole. That he was just... spare.

And now... now some sick twist of fate makes him wake up in another body as if he's capable of being... As if he isn't mere months away from his goal. As if his hands aren’t already well and truly dirty. It's cruel, though he really shouldn't be so surprised by that these days.

This only makes things more complicated, and that's not what Goro needs when he already has this Phantom Thieves business to worry about. He can't afford any distractions, no matter how...

Well, considering how he's spent several minutes leaning against this door now Goro still doesn't know exactly what his so- this body really looks like. Beyond the slender hands and comfortable nightwear, that is. Although he has an idea - a hope - considering how they could only have met yesterday.

Taking another deep breath - it's like he can't get enough air today - he forces his shoulders to square and finally takes a look around. The toilet is rather pokey, utilitarian but showing the wear of years of people coming and going. There's a mirror over the wash basin and grey eyes widen at Goro from his reflection.

The quiet boy from the studio corridor. His hair is messier from sleep but it's still a good look. He's definitely even more striking up close. Though, Goro realises as he leans closer to the mirror, he hadn't gotten to see the real intensity of these eyes at the time. His thoughts would undoubtedly have been even more caught up on the boy if he had.

Still, he can't just stand here staring at his- at the boy all day. Ignoring any thoughts about what comes after this, first Goro has to get through this whole day in this other body. While its usual occupant spends the day in his...

The interview. This is a problem. He can't afford to pull out of it, not when he needs to stay ahead of this Phantom Thief problem. And he can only pray that Shido doesn't call before he's back in his own body. Who knows what would happen if this other boy learned anything from that man. This could so easily ruin everything...

Goro has to talk to the boy. Get this situation back under control. He can do that. It doesn't have to be a big deal.

Feeling a little more sure of himself now, he takes one last look in the mirror, at the face that isn't his.

"Akira..." That was what the cat had called him. The cat. The talking cat.

And that's an interesting development, isn't it?

Although his steps are more measured now Goro still manages to slip back upstairs without seeing whoever else it is that's down there. Introductions can wait until he's investigated this strange cat.

It's waiting for him when he reaches the top of the stairs, sitting up straight on the end of the bed like a statue. The bright blue eyes are trained squarely on him but it doesn't make a sound. Almost as if it's trying to convince him that he imagined those earlier words.

Goro doesn't have time for the cat to play dumb like this. He isn't in the mood to beat around the bush, fixing it with a glare. "I know you talked."

The cat's tail flicks, muscles twitching as it holds back a response. It definitely thinks that it was a mistake to speak to him, still endeavouring to keep its secret even now that it's too late.

"Pretend all you want, it won't make me forget what I heard."

Another twitch, it doesn't open its mouth at all. In fact, Goro has the feeling that it's scowling at him as its eyes narrow.

While this is far from his first interrogation he's not got any experience getting a cat to answer his questions. Besides, time is wasting, and he needs to get in contact with his own body as soon as possible. Just in case. Perhaps all the cat needs is some time before it cracks and speaks again anyway.

There's a phone sitting on the window sill, next to a folded pair of glasses that he guesses must be cosmetic. While Goro picks it up his hopes aren't high. A lock screen greets him when he wakes it and that promptly puts an end to that idea. Even though he's safe in the knowledge that his own phone is just as secure this makes it that much harder to get hold of the other boy.

As it is he may simply have to rush over to his apartment and hope that the other boy is still there. But the trains will already be busy with the morning rush and he hasn't even found out where he is yet.

Maybe the man downstairs will let him borrow his phone for a quick call once he explains. The basics, that is. It's not such a strange thing for a teenager to come down to breakfast with someone else in their body, after all. Nothing so special.

With one last pointed look at the cat, he heads back down, feeling the nervous clenching of his stomach getting worse. Perhaps he should have been more prepared for this eventuality, but... Goro honestly hadn't thought it would ever happen, not for years now. No matter, he's good enough at improvising to get himself through this one day.

This time he doesn't stumble on the stairs, not in quite such an instinctive rush. Goro takes the opportunity to examine the place properly, frowning as he takes his surroundings in. It's some sort of cafe, which does certainly explain the strong smell of curry. Dingy but undoubtedly cared for. Strangely homely, in fact. Another unconventional piece to the puzzle that is this quiet boy with a talking cat.

Most importantly, though, there's what looks like a public phone sitting at the far end of the counter. Perfect.

Fortunately, there aren't any customers about yet, making him a little less concerned by the fact that he's still not properly dressed. Even if nobody could possibly know who he really is Goro can't help feeling anxious. Which is why he starts at the sound of the man's voice.

"Don't tell me you stayed up all night." It's not the friendliest of greetings, the exasperation lacking any particular warmth he would have expected from a family member. "I'm not here to babysit you, remember?"

The gruff man is standing in the kitchen area, which is not much more than a small alcove off to the side of the main counter, setting a lid back on a large pot as he turns to regard Goro with a frown. He's middle-aged, a receding hairline only accentuated by the way his dark hair is slicked back and apparently permanent frown lines.

"Uh..." His usual eloquence deserts him, Goro blames it on being less sure in this skin. "Sorry to bother you but could I use the phone?"

"Could you... Oh." It takes a moment but then it clicks. "You've swapped, right?"

The man doesn't sound overly happy about it, and Goro wonders if Akira at least might not be so put out by this turn of events. In a way it would be much simpler if he was, but...

An inexplicable lump having formed in his throat, Goro simply nods. His smile is little more than a ghost, he feels too tired to put up his usual mask right now. Today is nothing like it should've been.

"I had a feeling this'd happen sooner or later." The man sighs heavily. "I'm Sojiro Sakura, his temporary guardian."

Temporary? That would explain the gruffness, he supposes, even if it raises half a dozen new questions.

The confusion must show in his expression because Sojiro is quick to add; "It's... a little complicated, I guess. Probably better for you to hear it from him, though; you must be disorientated enough as it is."

Disorientated isn't quite the right word for it. Rather, Goro feels as if his entire world has tilted on its axis, years of waiting and planning at risk of being wiped away in the blink of an eye. Not that he can say as much.

Mercifully, Sojiro seems to understand his turmoil, even if he misunderstands the reason; "You're free to use the phone, of course. I guess you want to call him, huh?"

"Ideally, yes." Goro gratefully grasps the offered out from any more small talk. After all, every minute that goes by only raises the risk of this all blowing up in his face.

"I'll leave you to it then. Let me know if you need anything else."

While Sojiro duly retreats into the kitchen it's not quite the level of privacy that Goro would have liked. Still, he has a means to contact his own body and that's the important thing. He was planning on holding the tougher part of this conversation in person anyway.

The yellow phone is chunky, old but cared for - just like the rest of the cafe. It takes him a couple of tries, left hand feeling a little uncoordinated as he dials the number. Not surprising, of course, that this body is right-handed. Still a bit of an adjustment, though.

While he listens to it ring - hoping that the other boy will actually pick up - Goro takes the opportunity to inspect his hands again. It feels... odd, being in this body that isn't his own. If he wasn't so concerned by how badly this has thrown everything it might almost approach something profound.

The other boy keeps him waiting. Which is probably a good sign in and of itself, that he isn't leaping to answer Goro's phone. Hopefully that means he'll listen when Goro tells him not to answer it again after this. Even if Shido will be annoyed to have any of his calls ignored it's by far the lesser of the two evils in this situation.

"Hello?"

The voice on the other end of the phone is unmistakably his, even though it sounds rather hesitant. Probably ready to hang up if this is anyone he doesn't recognise.

While Goro is used to hearing himself back on the TV - not that he goes out of his way to watch interviews back, quite the opposite - this is a different experience altogether. Because this is someone else speaking, someone who has never actually spoken to him before this very moment.

Unbidden, his pulse picks up, feeling a sudden rush of nerves now that this is happening. What if this boy doesn't even want him? What if his own soulmate can't stand him? It wouldn't be a surprise, really, and suddenly all Goro can think about is that he's terrified of another rejection.

Summoning up as much charm as he can muster, he breathes out and pretends to be on top of this. "You know, I don't think I got your name yesterday."

He's rewarded with a laugh; a sound that feels foreign to his ears, too honest and warm to be coming from his own voice. "Well, you didn't really give me the chance, did you?"

The knot of anxiety in Goro's stomach starts to loosen just a little bit, all because of the warmth that carries down the line. It's barely been a minute and already he can feel a sense of affection threatening to take root. He's in trouble, without a doubt.

"I really was in a hurry, but I'm glad to see I made such an impression even so."

The other boy hums in what is presumably assent, the sort of noise that suggests he isn't the most vocal of individuals. Which would be a shame, as Goro has the feeling that his is a voice he could happily listen to at length.

Still, after an expectant pause, he offers the awaited answer, quiet but clear; "It's Akira. Akira Kurusu."

Akira. Just as the cat said. That realisation promptly bursts the bubble, bringing him back to himself. It seems that Goro is going to have to make a more conscious effort to not let this boy pull him in. He can't afford this distraction and he needs to find out just what it is that these Shujin students are up to. Especially if they really are who he increasingly suspects they are.

Wouldn't that be another cruel twist of fate? Cruel, or maybe...

One way or the other, the clock is already ticking and the two of them clearly have a lot to talk about. Even if they aren't due to record his segment until this afternoon there isn't much time to waste.

Besides, even though he can still hear signs of activity from the kitchen that doesn't mean he isn't being listened to. And there's really nothing to stop a customer walking in at any time either.

Glancing around furtively, he decides to cut to the chase. "I think this is really a conversation we ought to be having in person, Kurusu-kun."

"Missing your body that much?" The quip comes quickly, a classic evasion and Goro wonders why Akira might want to put off an actual meeting.

Perhaps the blunt approach wasn't quite the right one for this. Right now keeping Akira compliant is the most important thing, even if this flirting feels a little too genuine for his comfort.

Shooting another glance in the direction of the kitchen, shielding the receiver, Goro tries not to make it too obvious that he's lowered his voice. "Or maybe you're the one I'm missing."

Akira's chuckle suggests that he's still largely at ease. Even though he seems unconvinced by the line itself. "I guess I shouldn't keep you waiting then. How about Suidobashi Station in... forty-five minutes?"

That seems reasonable enough, seeing as they're both meant to be at the studio this afternoon. Ideally, this is a conversation to be had somewhere private but he's sure they can figure something out. If it comes to it he could always commandeer a room in the studio building.

Still, there is one thing...

"That sounds good, but, ah, where exactly am I?" It seems stupid to ask but it's hardly as if he can check on his - or Akira's - phone and he rather doubts the cat will tell him.

"Oh, right, Yongen-Jaya Station's only a couple minutes’ walk. You just need to head for the sound of cars and you can’t miss it. Trains to Shibuya are pretty regular." Akira's tone seems lacking in the assurance of someone who's lived here for years, a slight hesitancy that he tries to cover up.

Goro recalls Sojiro's comment about being a temporary guardian and wonders what precisely lies at the centre of this mystery. Complicated, the man had said; he empathises with that word.

"Thank you." Goro's thoughts are moving so fast that he only takes a moment too long to ask; "Did you need any help finding your way?"

"I can manage."

That's not exactly a yes, but it's good enough. Akira doesn't appear to be the type to ask for anything if he doesn't have to. It's hard to decide if that's admirable or foolish.

"Then I'll see you outside Suidobashi Station in forty-five minutes."

At least recognising each other shouldn't be a problem, although he knows he would've been able to pick out Akira even if he was still in his own body.

"Until then, Akechi-kun."

The promise sends a shiver down his spine. Contrary to his earlier fear, Akira definitely doesn’t seem to be put out by the prospect of being stuck with him. Dare he say that the other boy had even sounded pleased.

Still, Goro pushes that blossoming hope to one side, quietly setting down the receiver. This isn't about starting anything, this is about controlling the situation. If he's going to get to Suidobashi Station on time, though, he can't afford to stand around thinking.

Unsurprisingly, the cat is still sat right where he left it, eyes tracking Goro's every movement as he casts around the attic room in search of the right clothes. Maybe it's hoping to unnerve him, not that it stands any chance of that.

The rather spartan nature of the room helps him find the uniform easily enough, sitting folded at the top of a large cardboard box of clothes. Another, rather discomforting sign of the more transitory nature of this residence. He’s undoubtedly going to have to find out more about that, to sate his curiosity if nothing else.

Although time is wasting he still hesitates over actually starting to undress, even more acutely aware that this is not his body. It feels too much like an intrusion of Akira's privacy, despite the fact that he doesn't really have much of a choice about it.

In an attempt to displace his own embarrassment, Goro rounds on his audience; "I'd rather you didn't watch me get dressed, cat."

For some reason that gets the most visible reaction yet from the creature. It bristles, air escaping through barred teeth in a low sort of hiss. Still, the cat turns away in a sulk, clearly understanding the request in spite of its bad mood.

He wonders how long it will take to realise that such compliance only further reinforces the knowledge that it isn't an ordinary cat at all.

The Shujin Academy uniform isn't terrible, especially as it's summer. Just a white polo shirt and red plaid trousers, nothing fancy. But to get into it first he has to get out of Akira's nightwear. Perhaps it's a stupid thing to be embarrassed about but Goro's hands linger on the waistband, worrying at the fabric self-consciously.

Would Akira be taking this much time over getting dressed in his body? Maybe he's the type not to overthink any of this. He'd probably gotten dressed before Goro even called, as if this wasn't anything all that significant. Because, really, it isn't.

Pulling the shirt off in as fast and fluid a motion as he can manage, Goro barely glances down and sets about changing without any further hesitation. It's ridiculous to let it affect him like this, he's meant to be better than that. None of this means anything at all. Beyond getting some answers, that is.

Even though it's all but useless to him Goro still takes Akira's phone from the windowsill. If nothing else it will make a good enough shield to deflect attention away from himself.

The pair of glasses sitting beside the phone don't seem to be prescription, not least considering the way he can see perfectly well as it is. Cosmetic then. But... something tells him that they aren't just a fashion statement. Another shield.

Sliding the glasses on, he can't help feeling as if he's simply dressing in costume. Running a hand through the unruly curls, sure that trying to get them into more order wouldn't be worth the effort, he hopes that it won't be obvious that a switch has happened. The less attention he attracts the better.

When he goes to pick up the school bag, however, he encounters something of a problem. The cat is sitting in it. As if that's the most normal thing in the world.

"What are you doing?"

Rather than yielding any answer - or at least getting the cat to move - his question only makes it settle itself more firmly. This definitely isn't something he has time for, especially seeing as it still refuses to open its mouth.

Does the cat want to stop him from leaving? Unless it plans to talk that seems rather questionable, it's probably just doing it to be awkward. Cats do that, don't they?

So he'll just have to move it himself. Goro has no intention of being late, for more than one reason. Not entirely sure what angle to attack this from, though, he tries one last request. "Please move, cat."

It only hisses, ducking away from his hands while still managing to remain in the bag. The thing is awfully determined to stay there.

Maybe, he thinks, it wants to talk to Akira. To keep Goro from blindsiding him with the obvious question, most likely. Which certainly suggests that there might be a lot more to this than just a talking cat.

Either way, Goro is forced to concede that the cat will just have to come with him. That doesn't mean he's particularly pleased with the extra weight on his shoulder, though. Hopefully, he won't end up leaving Akira with aching muscles tomorrow morning. Even though he shouldn't he finds himself worrying about the impression he'll leave on the other boy.

Heavier bag in place, he heads downstairs with the intention of slipping straight out of the door but doesn't make it more than a few steps before Sojiro calls out to him.

"Here, you should eat something before you go running off."

Perhaps the gruffness doesn't run as deeply as he'd initially thought. Or maybe it's only Akira himself who the man treats that way. Either way, there should still be plenty of time for him to get to Suidobashi Station, even allowing for his unfamiliarity with this specific route and he does feel hungry. This body must be used to a regular breakfast, of course.

So, when Sojiro gestures for him to take a seat at the counter he doesn't bother trying to come up with an excuse not to, happy to slide the bag onto the adjoining seat.

Though he finds it hard to hide the surprise when a plate of curry gets slid in front of him. While Goro readily admits that he doesn't have the most conventional idea of breakfast this is a little strange. If he were being unkind he might assume this was the only dish the man could actually cook.

Still, he understands the importance of manners. And it's been such a long time since he had a meal prepared for him like this. "Thank you, this smells wonderful."

"It's the least I can do." Sojiro doesn't quite crack a smile but his manner definitely seems to have softened somewhat.

Fortunately, the man doesn’t seem particularly interested in prying, prepared to leave him be without trying to find out anything about who he really is. It’s a relief, as unprepared for this whole ordeal as he is Goro would’ve struggled to deal with inquiring parents. A lot of people consider the swap to be a big deal, after all, and there are still plenty of families who wouldn’t react at all well to a same-sex swap. At least that’s one break he's caught today.

Trying not to reflect too much on anything - wondering what Akira’s thoughts on waking up in an empty apartment might have been - he takes a bite of curry. Which is actually rather good, even if he still thinks it’s a little odd to be having for breakfast. Of course, he’s barely taken a second mouthful when the bag rustles frantically, the cat’s head poking out.

Not liking the way it seems to be eying up his food, Goro glares back at it. "Cats don’t eat curry."

While the cat still refuses to reply - twitching - the remark is enough to get Sojiro’s attention. "Ah, he hasn’t had his breakfast yet."

After a bit of audible rummaging, the man emerges from the kitchen with a plate of more cat-suitable food and places it delicately on the floor. While the cat doesn’t seem overly enthused by the offering, shooting another rather wishful look at Goro’s curry, its hunger quickly wins out and it leaps down with something suspiciously like a grumble.

Sensing an opportunity, Goro decides to try approaching the subject. "It's... a bit of an unusual cat, isn't it?"

"You could say that. He and Akira are very close, the cat - Morgana - goes almost everywhere with him." The way Sojiro pats the creature’s head certainly doesn’t suggest that he sees it as anything other than a normal cat. "He’s usually a bit noisier than this too, especially when he’s hungry."

Oh really? Goro narrows his eyes at the cat, turning that over in his mind. "Maybe it's because he knows I'm not Akira."

There's no maybe about it, of course. He knows full well that the cat is purposely biting its tongue on account of him. Still, Goro notes the way the cat seems to twitch in response to the pointed comment, clearly still paying close attention to him. Obviously guilty.

What does Morgana want to hide? If Sojiro is used to hearing noise from the cat - but not speech - then it must not normally have to worry about being overheard in public. Perhaps only this particular body is capable of distinguishing his words?

Except… If the cat spends most of his time with Akira - in his school bag - then he would’ve been there at the studio yesterday. In the corridor...

He’d heard it. The realisation hits him with sudden clarity, mind racing to connect the pieces. That high-pitched voice he hadn’t been able to place was this cat. And those other Shujin students had been talking to it. Normally. As if it was simply another member of their group.

Yet while he had heard it even in his own body it seems that Sojiro isn’t able to. So there must be some criteria that needs to be met in order to understand this cat's speech... Something that he and those three Shujin students would have in common, hmm?

His conversation with Akira is clearly going to have to be a long one, even before he starts to deal with how they’re going to get through the recording without anyone noticing that a swap has happened. Which could be rather harder than he’d initially hoped, if one of the Phantom Thieves really is the one inhabiting his body today. Still, a glance at the clock tells Goro that he needs to get a move on if he wants to beat the other boy to their meeting place, so he tries to focus on eating for the time being.

His enjoyment of the meal is further improved when a cup of coffee is set down beside to his plate. It's rather more like a normal breakfast in his book, although the freshly made coffee is leagues better than the instant blend he's used to. It's frankly a shame that he doesn't have more time to savour it. But, he supposes, he'll have plenty of opportunity to do so next time...

That's a dangerous thought. There simply shouldn't be a next time. He's already finding himself acclimatising to the idea of being a part of this boy's life. But while there might be room for him in this life - maybe - Goro doesn't have room for any of this. He can't let himself lose focus. Nothing is more important than bringing down Shido.

It's almost enough to make the coffee taste sour as he downs the last of it. "That was delicious, thank you."

Busy preparing for the morning rush, Sojiro has long since returned to the kitchen. Still, he emerges in order to shoot another look at him, frowning again. "Do you need help getting to the station?"

"Oh no, Akir- Kurusu-kun told me how to find it." The familiar name slips out almost before he can stop it and Goro tries to hide his mortification behind a smile.

If the man notices he doesn't say so, attention already turning back to the task of preparing the cafe for the day. His lack of curiosity is welcome, at least right now. The only questions Goro wants to deal with today are his own.

Already starting to regret the delay, as good as the meal was, he heads for the door with a quick call of goodbye.

Not to be left behind, Morgana leaps back into the bag before Goro can get it out of range. It was worth a shot at least, although if he keeps the cat with him there's a greater chance of it letting another word or two slip. Plus, he needs to keep it from warning anyone, as he's sure it intends to.

Could Goro really have stumbled across the Phantom Thieves so easily? It would be an awfully large coincidence for a Shujin student to have a talking cat without any connection whatsoever to the Metaverse. If he really has found them - if his... soulmate really is one of them - then maybe he can make this work in his favour. Maybe fate has been kinder than he thought.